It's been a year since I went to Africa. I can't believe it. The team went again this year, and I was not a part of it. I wanted to be, but God said to wait. I will say that the time the team was gone was a rough two weeks for me. I sat and watched as team members posted pictures on facebook of the sweet children that I got to love on last year, and the school that we were at and the slum that we walked through and experienced, and the very same park that we had brought the very same kids to, and I missed it all. I wanted to be crammed in a bus packed with children so tight that you couldn't move and you didn't know if that puddle on your lap was sweat form being pressed in with seven children on your lap or of you had been peed on, and there was no room to check. I wanted hear their little voices sing their little hearts out and smell the stench of rotting, burning garbage on the streets as we rumbled down pothole-filled streets, jostling and bumping for miles.
I stood in my bathroom and looked at my shiny, clean toilet. The toilet that I was so grateful for when I got home last year, the toilet with a seat and water that ran through it and that wasn't just a hole in the ground to hover over. And I was not grateful for my toilet like I had been, because I wanted nothing other than to pee in a hole while swatting flies and holding my breath with all my might because the stench was so strong.
I wanted that. I wanted to be uncomfortable and hot and sweaty as the children pressed in and to be constantly using hand sanitizer for fear of e-coli and typhoid and a host of other things carried on the children's filthy hands. Hands that I held, and loved, and caressed with all my might for such a short time. Hands that played in my hair, braiding and smoothing; hands that pressed into my white skin, amazed that it changed color with pressure. Fingers that fiddled with the rough skin on my elbows, fascinated for some reason. I miss it so much my heart hurts a physical pain in my chest and I want to go back.
And I laid in my bed and I sobbed. I sobbed with ungratefulness for my soft bed and my warm sheets and my house and my green yard. I cried out with the pain of heartache of missing these people, these lives that I experienced for such a short time but had such a profound impact on my entire being. I left a huge part of my heart in Africa, and my heart ached with the separation and I wanted to be there to feel whole again.
But God had told me to to wait. I had argued Him for a while, back in January when we had signed up for the trip, excited to go back, but whenever God and I disagree, He is always right. So I waited. My husband and I hope to go next year, if it is God's will. Oh, how I hope it is God's will, because if I don't go back I might explode. I want to see those kids, and love on those amazing people who have absolutely nothing that America deems of value but who have joy and contentment like I have never seen in this country because they know that stuff doesn't matter. The faith of those people is amazing, and my heart longs to be a part of that circle of faith again, even for a short time. Where the name of Jesus is intertwined into everyday conversation in the most natural way, because they know that they only have life and breath because of Him. I am tired of being afraid, afraid in a land where the name of our savior is spoken hesitantly to see if it will cause offense. To see if we will be labeled as a freak. Where we value a life of blending in and being "normal". I don't want to be normal.
Because we live in a society where Self is valued above all else, and I want to go back to where God is valued because I know that God is so much greater then Self. I hear people talk in words that whisper little nudgings that Self is the most important, that we "deserve" this or that reward or break or purchase because we need to put our own needs first and I just want to scream and to go back and to love on some people who teach me so much more than I cousd ever bring to them with all the money in the world. Because I know that what I deserve, and I know that what I deserve is not what I will get, because He died for me to make sure I don't have to feel the burn of the consequences of my choices. He saved me. He died for me. He is the most important.
I am grateful for my house, and I am grateful for my money, and I am grateful for my toilet. I am grateful that my children will not die of preventable disease or starvation. I am grateful and I am humbled and I am thankful that He chose to give this life to me. I also know that to whom much is given, much is required, an now that I have seen the difference in what I have been given I know I need to act. Much is required of me, and it is not to go to the mall because I "deserve it". It is to live to serve, and I'm still figuring out what that looks like, even a year later. But it will come, small stirrings in my heart to lead me down God's path for my life.
And I can't wait to see what He does.